A watchdog has found that former President Donald Trump is innocent of allegations made by Democrats that he meddled in plans to move the FBI’s headquarters.
A watchdog has found that President Donald Trump didn’t improperly influence the FBI’s decision to keep its headquarters in downtown Washington rather than move it to suburban locations in Maryland or Virginia.
“With regard to possible influence by then President Trump or the White House, we found no evidence that the FBI’s decisions were based on improper considerations or motives,” the Justice Department inspector general wrote in a report released on Oct. 24, after a four-year investigation.
Roughly 20 years ago, the FBI concluded that its DC-based headquarters—the J. Edgar Hoover Building—was no longer meeting the needs of the agency in terms of security and supporting the needs of its workforce.
Starting in 2014, the government began exploring the possibility of transferring ownership of the current FBI headquarters land to a developer, who in exchange would build a new facility in the suburbs in a deal dubbed an “exchange procurement.”
However, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) found that the value of the existing site wouldn’t cover the cost of a new facility and so the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked Congress for money to cover the difference.
The FBI headquarters—the J. Edgar Hoover building—in Washington on March 22, 2023. (Richard Moore/The Epoch Times)
Then in July 2017, the GSA announced that it had canceled plans to go ahead with the exchange procurement deal because Congress didn’t appropriate all the requested funds. This prompted the FBI to scrap plans for a suburban campus and instead recommend demolishing the J. Edgar Hoover building and constructing a new headquarters in its place.
But some Democrats saw a conspiracy afoot. They accused President Trump of meddling in that decision, claiming in an October 2018 letter to the GSA that he did it to keep competitors away from his DC-based commercial property, the Trump International Hotel.
They alleged that President Trump directly influenced the decision to scrap the suburban campus construction deal during a January 2018 a meeting that included GSA officials, the FBI, and White House officials.
“He was directly involved with the decision to abandon the long-term relocation plan and instead move ahead” with the alternate plan, they claimed.
“He should not have played any role in a determination that bears directly on his own financial interests with the Trump hotel,” the Democrats argued.
The letter prompted an investigation, which concluded by finding President Trump innocent of the allegations.
“Specifically, we found no evidence that, in making the decision to seek to have the new FBI headquarters remain at its current JEH site, Director Wray or others at the FBI considered the location of the then named Trump International Hotel or how then President Trump’s financial interests could be impacted by the decision,” the watchdog wrote in the report.
Vietnamese American Conservative Alliance (VACA)
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